On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Global Film Series hosted a screening of the Turkish film “Ayla: The Daughter of War” in Witherspoon Student Center Campus Cinema. The screening was done in collaboration with the Turkish Student Association, who organized a Turkish dinner in Fountain Dining Hall to go along with the theme of the film.
The Turkish dishes were being served at the dining hall from 4:30 p.m. to closing. The screening started at 6:30 p.m., and was kicked off with an introduction by Aydin Aysu, an assistant professor and researcher in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program. Aysu, who was born and raised in Turkey, gave context to the subject matter of the film for the audience.
“This movie is not just about war, it is about peace, it is about love ... that develops in the most dire circumstances,” Aysu said. “In a political climate today that is plagued by wars and fueled by conflicts and even ever-polarizing public discourse, this movie I hope can help us remind ourselves of the more human side of our shared endeavors.”
“Ayla: The Daughter of War” follows the true story of a Turkish military officer by the name of Süleyman, who is forced to leave home and go fight in Korea during the Korean War in 1950.
Although he is a noncommissioned officer and is formally trained as a mechanic, he is quickly dragged into the gruesome violence of war.
During a mission to go with his superior officer to an American military base, Süleyman and his companions come across a group of dead Korean civilians. Süleyman discovers a young girl, no more than 6 years old, who is still alive among the dead.
It is at this moment the story of the film shifts to a sometimes harrowing, but always beautiful journey that is undertaken by Süleyman and the girl, who he and his group of soldiers name Ayla.
Throughout the film, Ayla begins to grow more and more attached to Süleyman, eventually deciding that he must be her father. Süleyman is emotionally torn, knowing they will eventually be forced to part ways when his tour is over. This emotional conflict makes for an extremely poignant and tear-jerking experience that viewers will not soon forget.
The climax of the film is something too poetic and emotionally riveting to be made up. As the credits roll, actual footage of the real-life events is shown to further deepen the bittersweet gut-punch that is felt.
The direction and style of the film is sometimes at odds with American cinematic tendencies. There are a few moments throughout that could easily feel sappy, with bombastic swells and slow motion push-ins, but these choices end up working to the film’s benefit as the story progresses, creating an endearing sense of heightened emotion and an almost dreamlike quality at certain emotional peaks.
The film is at times brutal and violent, and at times relentlessly sweet and charming, which all comes together to make for a viewing experience that can be felt in a very deep place. It’s this contrast that continues to make “Ayla: The Daughter of War” such a powerful work.
After the screening, Aysu was unable to stay for the typical faculty Q&A, so the event ended slightly earlier than planned.
Marian Fragola, who helps run the Global Film Series, gave a few words on how she felt the collaboration with the Turkish Student Association impacts the culture on campus.
“I think it provides a great way for the Turkish Student Association to interact with a broader audience,” Fragola said. “I think it’s really just a great way to have conversations that might not happen in other places and give them exposure.”
The Global Film Series will host its next film screening, a Finnish documentary titled “Entrepreneur,” Nov. 19 in Witherspoon Student Center Campus Cinema.